Plans to extend light rail from Minneapolis to Eden Prairie advanced in mid-July after Hennepin County and the Council approved several agreements with a freight rail operator that will share a portion of the corridor with light rail.
The agreements with the Twin Cities & Western Railroad Company will now be considered by the Surface Transportation Board, a federal regulatory agency.
A favorable ruling from the Surface Transportation Board will allow the Council to reapply to the Federal Transit Administration to allow construction on the Green Line Extension (Southwest LRT) to move forward later this year. The Council would then submit its application for federal funding, which is expected to cover roughly half of the project costs.
“This region expects almost a million more people between 2010 and 2040,” said Council Chair Alene Tchourumoff. “To accommodate such growth, we must build Southwest LRT, which is critical to the economic health and mobility of our region. The continued ability of this project to overcome significant challenges, including reaching agreements to share rail corridors with three different freight rail companies, is no small feat.
“This important project continues to move forward because of our partnership with Hennepin County and the commitment of so many local officials, project staff, and residents to see it become a reality,” Tchourumoff said.
The Green Line Extension will serve Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka and Eden Prairie. Construction is expected to create 7,500 jobs.
Rail continues to be a popular choice for metro area transit riders. Ridership on the Green and Blue lines, as well as Northstar Commuter Rail, is ahead of last year’s totals through the first half of 2018. All three lines saw record ridership in 2017.
More about the Southwest Light Rail Transit project.